Home » Burnout in startups: What are the symptoms? What helps?

Burnout in startups: What are the symptoms? What helps?

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Burnout in startups: What are the symptoms?  What helps?

Back pain and sleepless nights: nothing to worry about yet? Getty Images / Dominik Schmitt for Gründerszene

Michael Lukesch says he knows founders who ended up in the hospital because of their jobs. One person lost all feeling in his right hand: “The body said: ‘That’s it, that’s it’.” Ripcord.

While we were getting to know each other, Lukesch, 37 and founder of a biotech startup, considered whether he would prefer to speak to me anonymously. Because what follows is not a classic success story. Not one that gets a rocket emoji on Linkedin. And we journalists also write more often about million-dollar rounds and the biggest exits – than about founders who end up in the hospital with nervous disorders. Because they overworked themselves.

One in two founders struggles with severe or very severe mental health problems – says a new study. Very few people want to talk about it openly. The fear of scaring investors is too great. Not entirely unfounded, as our research shows.

The study, carried out by the European startup magazine Sifted, is not representative. But it gives an indication of the current state of mind in the startup scene. The fact that this seems rather bleak could have tangible consequences: According to Sifted, 49 percent of the 156 founders surveyed are considering leaving their company: rip cord.

We talked to those affected, a therapist and an investor about when this makes sense, what alarm signals you should be aware of and what VCs think about it.

Fear of your own people: How do I recognize burnout?

Fear of your own people? Many founders have this experience, says a mental health coach. Getty Images

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